Thinking About Moral Relativism

Highly recommended reading on relativism

Is morality merely a matter of opinion? Many in our culture today believe that it is. They believe issues like same sex marriage and abortion are up to each individual to decide. Moral relativism is the view that when it comes to moral issues there are no universally objective answers on ethics, no inappropriate judgments, no rational means to make moral distinctions that apply every time, in all situations, for all people.[1]  Thus, morals are subjective opinions in the same way as someone’s taste in music, art or ice cream. A subjective truth claim makes the claimant the subject of the truth. For instance, if I say “I like butter pecan ice cream” the statement is about me not the ice cream. However, if I say “this ice cream has melted” then the ice cream is the subject. This second statement is an objective claim because it can be checked by anyone who examines the ice cream. Accordingly, if it is a runny mess then my claim is true, if it is still frozen my claim is false. Similarly, moral relativism is the position that morality is akin to taste in ice cream. But is this really the case? Aren’t there moral issues that seem genuinely objective?


I believe it is demonstrable that morality is objective, even if it is not always easy to discover. Obvious examples can be found in the extremes. Historical atrocities like the holocaust are universally believed to be truly evil. Child abuse and rape are universally believed to be immoral. If someone disagrees, we generally refer them to a mental health professional. C.S. Lewis is famous for observing that to understand that a line is crooked then we must have some sort of idea of what a straight line looks like. Thus, it follows that when we clearly see these things as evil, we are judging them against a similar standard of how things ought to be.  We do not invent this standard we discover it, just as we don’t invent mathematical or logical truths, we simply observe them.  Relativism denies the existence of these standards and argues that there is morally neutral ground, so we should not judge others.

Yet there is a profound incoherence in this foundational principle of the moral relativist. By saying we ought not to judge others they have imposed their own absolute moral rule. In fact, they are judging those who they perceive as judgmental, making them the worst sort of hypocrites.  Indeed, there is no morally neutral ground and moral relativism promotes intolerance of anyone who does not agree with it.  To elevate tolerance is in itself a moral ought. In fact, given relativism, there is no basis to complain about evil, fairness, justice or accuse others of wrongdoing. Relativism is ultimately contradictory and self-refuting. We do not each have our own individual moral truths; everyone instinctively recognizes a large body of moral standards. People begin with moral propositions.

The burden of proof is not on the person who holds to moral absolutes rather it is on the one who claims they do not exist. The proposition that “it is always wrong to torture innocent children for fun” needs no defense. In fact, anyone who disagrees is diagnosed a psychopath and we routinely lock such folks away in prison for life. If moral relativism were true, we would have no ground to stand on. We would be in the position to say, “While I disagree with torturing innocent children for fun, it may be fine for you.” But this is barbaric and against the foundational concepts of civilization. No one can really live this way, which explains the hypocrisy noted above. The best explanation for the objective morality that we instinctively observe is that the very fabric of reality was created by a rational moral agent.  As Christians, we argue that this agent is the God of the Bible and objective morality is a reflection of His holy nature.


[1] Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1998), 12.

Upcoming Future Congress Workshop on Tactics

Tactics For Defending the Faith in a Fallen World

Some might think that an apologetics workshop is a bit out of place at the Future Congress. It may seem so on the surface, but I think upon closer examination not only its relevance but its urgent necessity will come to light. The Gospel has always been an offense to prideful men but lately things have escalated. Spiritual warfare largely takes place in the life of the mind. When Satan enticed Eve to sin he did it by implanting a false idea (Gen 3:1). My workshop Tactics for Defending the Faith in a Fallen World is designed to equip you to engage in the realm of ideas.

What would you say if a friend said, “It’s wrong for missionaries to try to change peoples religious beliefs. We should respect their indigenous culture”?

How about when your neighbor says, “Well you can’t really just accept the Bible it’s been translated so many times that no one can really be sure what it originally said”?

Or how about when your son or daughter comes home from school and tells you that their teacher taught them that, “All religions are equally true and valid for those who believe in in them”?

You do not have to be an expert on every subject to respond to these ideas and promote the truth of the Gospel. There is a simple and effective tactical method that anyone can learn to deal with these and more.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. – John 15:18-19

Biblical Christianity is becoming increasingly marginalized in America. For decades, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other radical anti-Christian groups have been on a mission to eliminate the expression of Christian values in the public square. The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal organization committed to defending religious liberty for Christians that has successfully defended these following cases recently:

  • A then-second-grade student at a public school in New Jersey was told that she could not sing “Awesome God” in an after-school talent show.
  • A pastor of a church in Arizona was ordered to stop holding meetings or Bible studies in his private home.
  • Five Christian men were threatened with arrest for sharing their faith on a public sidewalk in Virginia.
  • A Christian student at a university in Missouri was threatened with having her degree withheld because she refused to write a letter to the state legislature expressing her support for homosexual adoption.
  • A pro-life nurse at a hospital in New York was forced to participate in a late-term abortion, even though her workplace had agreed in writing to honor her religious convictions.

They report that the persecution and censorship is becoming prevalent especially at the University. Unfortunately, the future promises to become more precarious. All Christians need apologetics skills!

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:3

What is worse are the incoherent beliefs expressed by professing Christians. According to the 2008 Pew survey results:

  • 78% overall say there are “absolute standards of right and wrong,” but only 29% rely on their religion to delineate these standards. The majority (52%) turn to “practical experience and common sense,” with 9% relying on philosophy and reason, and 5% on scientific information.
  • 74% say “there is a heaven, where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” but far fewer (59%) say there’s a “hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”
  • 70%, including a majority of all major Christian and non-Christian religious groups except Mormons, say “many religions can lead to eternal life.”
  • 68% say “there’s more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.”

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. -Matthew 10:16

Jesus taught that when you find yourself a sheep amidst wolves, be innocent but shrewd. This teaching calls for a tactical approach. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20). Accordingly, although there is real warfare going on, our engagements should look more like diplomacy than combat. The training offered in this workshop is based on the tried and true techniques I learned myself from master Christian apologist Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. It is my honor and privilege to pass this valuable teaching on to you.In this workshop you will be introduced for techniques to:

  • Initiate conversations effortlessly
  • Stop challengers in their tracks and turn the tables
  • Graciously and effectively expose faulty thinking
  • Maneuver through mine fields
  • Present the truth clearly, cleverly, and persuasively

The workshop will meet for two one hour sessions Friday July 22 at 3:00 and then Saturday at 3:30. I look forward to meeting you in Branson!

The R-UFO Hypothesis vs. Ancient Astronaut Theory

The R-UFO hypothesis means “residual unidentified flying object” hypothesis and basically recognizes that of all the UFO reports there is a residual 10% or so that cannot be explained away. Ancient Astronaut theorists would have us believe that these are space aliens from other planets. Yet that idea was dealt a hard blow this week as Dr. Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has stated unequivocably that alien life is highly improbable. In an article at the Telegraph he stated “We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it.” This is not good news for proponents of ancient astronaut theory whom I have criticized recently for their incoherent arguments. Dr. Hugh Ross agrees and has argued similarly in his book Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at Ufos and Extraterrestrials .

Yet there seems to be evidence of otherworldly visitations and even contact with strange beings. I believe this is best explained by the spiritual entity, inter-dimensional being hypothesis. I recently found a series of videos put on by the Reasons to Believe science/faith think tank on the R-UFO hypothesis. It is hosted by one of my favorite Christian apologists Greg Koukl and features Astrophysicist Dr Hugh Ross and theologian/philosopher Kenneth Samples. It is a series of four programs which consist of several YT segments each, the last program (parts 9-12) explains the inter-dimensional hypothesis and the high probability that what is being reported is the same phenomenon that was regarded as demonic in antiquity.

Here is a playlist of all 12 parts